Trailing in the Central Division while trying to end a losing streak is an unfamiliar scenario for the Detroit Red Wings.
The Wings look to end a five-game losing skid - their longest in nearly four years - when they face the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena on Monday.
Although Detroit (12-6-4) won its fifth straight Central Division title last season with 124 points, Nashville staked its place as a serious threat, finishing second with a franchise-record 106 points. The Predators are again challenging the Red Wings for the division crown, sitting in first place with a four-point lead.
With a chance to tie Nashville for the top spot Saturday, the Red Wings instead allowed six straight goals in a 6-2 road loss.
Rookie Joey MacDonald stopped 21 of 27 shots in his second career start. The six goals were the most allowed by Detroit since a 6-3 loss at Nashville in the 2005-06 regular season finale.
"We had a young guy playing in net for the second game of his career," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "In that situation you want to do everything you can to not give up shots. But that wasn't the case for us at all. You can't leave here as a coach or as a player and not be disappointed."
Detroit is 0-2-3 since a franchise record-tying nine-game win streak. The Red Wings haven't gone winless in six consecutive games since they had four losses and two ties from Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2003.
Now that veterans Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan have departed, production from forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg is imperative if Detroit is to remain among the league's elite. Zetterberg has six of his eight goals this month, but Datsyuk has gone 12 games without a goal and Holmstrom seven straight without scoring.
Dominik Hasek figures to be back in net Monday, looking to end a personal three-game losing streak (0-1-2). He has won three straight starts against the Stars, including a 17-save performance in a 4-3 victory at Dallas on Oct. 27.
Dallas (16-6-0) would be tied for first if it resided in the Central, but has the misfortune of playing in a Pacific Division that includes Anaheim and San Jose, the top teams in the Western Conference.
The Stars got three power-play goals from defenseman Philippe Boucher in their third straight win, 5-3 over Los Angeles on Friday.
The first hat trick of his 14-year career was particularly special for Boucher, who was scheduled to leave the team Saturday morning to be with his father, Jean-Claude, who is in a Quebec hospital battling pancreatic cancer. Boucher's mother, Jacqueline, recently had bypass surgery.
"Playing 60 minutes of hockey is an escape for me," Boucher said. "I'm going to go back and give (one of the pucks) to (my father)."
Friday also saw the return of right wing Jere Lehtinen to the Dallas lineup. Lehtinen, one of the league's best defensive forwards, missed four straight games with a leg injury.
While Lehtinen was back, captain Brenden Morrow injured his groin in the first period and did not return. Tippett said Morrow was held out as a precaution and that he should not be sidelined long-term.
The Stars also have been going with a rookie goalie in Mike Smith, who stopped 22 shots in his second consecutive start Friday. Dallas coach Dave Tippett said Marty Turco isn't in danger of losing his spot as the team's top goaltender, but Tippett wanted to see how Smith responded to consecutive starts.
Turco has struggled against the Red Wings. He has one win, seven losses and five ties in 14 starts with a 2.98 goals-against average.